Highway Code – response from DfT official

Below is the response that people have received when writing to Stephen Ladyman MP. The text forwarded to us by several people has been the same, and is as below.

Road User Safety Division 4
Department for Transport
Zone 2/13
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR

Telephone: 0207 944 2026
Fax: 0207 944 2029
GTN Code: 3533 2026
Email: john.doyle@dft.gsi.gov.uk

[DAY] May 2007

Thank you for your email of [DATE] to Stephen Ladyman, about the advice for cyclists contained in the proposed revised Highway Code. I have been asked to reply.

The Highway Code has advised cyclists to use cycle facilities such as cycle tracks since 1946. The advice on using cycle facilities in the proposed revised Highway Code is not a legal requirement. It does not place any compulsion on cyclists to use cycle facilities and it remains their decision whether or not they follow this advice to improve their safety. The distinction between legal requirements and advisory rules is made clear in the Introduction to the Code.

The previous (1999) edition of the Code and the 2006 consultation draft used the wording “whenever practicable” in advising cyclists to use cycle facilities. In the interests of clarity, we have changed this to “whenever possible” in the proposed revised Highway Code. This does not in any way, however, affect the substance or status of the advice.

In addition, and following representations from cyclists and discussion with the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, the order of the wording was changed from the 2006 consultation draft, so that the advice to use cycling facilities “wherever possible” applies to all kinds of facility. We recognised that the 2006 draft may have appeared to imply that certain facilities should be used in all circumstances where such facilities are provided so this rule has been revised to make clear that this is not the case. The final version makes it clear that it is at the discretion of each cyclist to decide whether or not it is indeed possible for them to use any specific cycle facility.

The Highway Code also provides advice to car and other drivers on the need to be aware of and look out for cyclists and other vulnerable road users. This aspect of the Code has been strengthened in the proposed revisions, taking account of the responses to the 2006 consultation. In fact, more than 30 rules have been revised to strengthen the advice to allow all vulnerable road users, including cyclists, more room and to give them more consideration.

Cyclists themselves also have a responsibility to ensure their own safety where they can. The Highway Code informs and advises them as to how they can do so.